Sunday, April 11, 2010

No sects please, we're the Supremes

Stevens, the Only Protestant on the Supreme Court
With just five exceptions, every member of the Supreme Court in the nation’s history has been a white male, like Justice John Paul Stevens.

But Justice Stevens cuts a lone figure on the current court in one demographic category: He is the only Protestant. Today, the court is made up of six Roman Catholics, two Jews and Justice Stevens.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said that society is past worrying about a nominee’s religious affiliations.

“Historically, religion was huge,” said Professor Epstein of Northwestern. “It was up there with geography as the key factor.”

“These days,” said Lee Epstein, a law professor at Northwestern and an authority on the court, “we’ve moved to other sources of diversity,” including race, gender and ethnicity.

Except for Justice Stevens, all the current justices attended law school at Harvard or Yale.

Like Justice Stevens, all served on federal appeals courts before their appointments, in a break from the historical practice of including leading lawyers and politicians in the mix.

And all members of the current court, except for Justice Stevens and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, were elevated from appeals courts in the Boston-to-Washington corridor.

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